Our farm is called “Finca Pepito” following our second child’s name, José Cisneros, who is physically and mentally handicapped. Pepito has been a blessing for our family. He has the power to transform everything around him into happiness. Since he came to our lives, he has been our greatest strength. He is a symbol of constant struggle and courage. His smile is full of hope.
The farm is located close to Ayacucho, “the city of the 33 churches”, in the South-Central zone of the Peruvian Andes. It is a "Majestic City" for its architecture, art and tradition. The battle of Ayacucho was held here and afterwards the independence of Peru was sealed here as well.
On the way from Ayacucho to Finca Pepito, we see impressive canyons, high plateaus, undulating pampas, lakes, diverse crops and cattle like sheep and vicuñas (South American camelid). In the puna (highland region) we find a wonderful plant, the “Raimondi Puya”, also known as Titanka, which grows above 3,000 meters high and has the largest bloom in the vegetal world with approximately 18,000 flowers per plant.
On our farm we grow quinoa but in the surroundings, we find other wild fruits such as cherries and goldenberries, and queñua: a tall tree that nourishes the earth, regulates the climate, prevents soil erosion and retains soil water.
On the outskirts of our farm there’s a small river and there are 7 small lagoons that serve our field as a valuable source of irrigation. Regarding fauna, we find Parihuanas (wild birds), wild ducks, Liclle (wild bird), sheep, cows and horses. From the farm we can see two hills: the "Huaujio'' and the “Colona”. We are close to the Regional Conservation Area of “Puya Raymondi - Titankayocc of Vinchongo Forrest” and the Inca Archaeological Ruins of “Vilcashuamán”.
Chiara (Ayacucho region) is a very prosperous agricultural and livestock district due to its excellent natural resources and its communication routes to the main cities of the region. 65% of the economic activity in the area is farming.
The cultivation of quinoa is seasonal. In the Ayacucho region the rainy season goes from September to March. The required rainfall per productive cycle is 300-500mm. The quinoa plant grows and develops well under these conditions. Even though the cultivation is in dry soil, we have an emergency irrigation system so that in case of drought, we supply the plant with sprinkler irrigation using the reservoirs of the Aqchipa Huachana River.
Our farm has passed from generation to generation in our family since 1918. Our ancestors cultivated potatoes, mashua, oca, olluco, tarhui, quinoa, kiwicha and oats. We have been working in organic farming since 2019 motivated by our interest to produce food with the highest nutritional quality and respectful to the environment. The production of organic quinoa is very artisanal and requires a surplus of activities and resources. Therefore, annually we need to hire temporary workers, a fact that makes us feel proud because we collaborate in improving the economic conditions and lifestyle of several families.
We fertilize the land with herbs and organic material from previous harvests that notably enrich the soil. What’s more, we work together with biodiversity and the presence of natural enemies by creating hedges with different plants and flowers such as coriander, sage or rue that serve as a refuge. We minimize the impact of non-natural supplements to the soil and we always avoid the use of chemicals or pesticides. We strive for harmony between nature and our farming activity to fully respect the natural environment (vegetation, fauna, soil and landscape). We rotate crops (potato-quinoa-barley-bean) to take care of the richness of the soil and to prevent it from rotting. The energy consumption on our farm is very low and we currently do not have a renewable energy source. We do not produce waste since all the organic material coming from the harvest and cleaning of the quinoa goes directly to the soil as compost.
My wife Yudy, our four children and I work actively on our project throughout the year. During the harvest season we get help from 15 people who have been in our team for 3 years. Since we started the project, we have improved their lifestyle year by year by making an extra effort paying wages above the minimum salary. In addition, our employees benefit from training programs in organic agriculture, the good use of natural resources, getting insight about agricultural business, participating in coaching workshops, etc.